A group of Colorado State University Cooperative Extension experts who help new owners of small acreages manage their land was recognized Sept. 26 with the Team Award. The award, given by Epsilon Sigma Phi, the Cooperative Extension professional fraternity, recognizes teamwork that makes a difference in Colorado communities.
The group, the Northwest Regional Small Acreage team, helped to address the needs of landowners fitting into the area’s growing trend of owning one to 49 acres. While managing plots that were once larger agricultural operations, the majority of these people do not have a traditional agricultural background. In addition, many have no or limited experience in managing natural resources and are usually new to Colorado.
"This team holds up an example of how Cooperative Extension responds to critical needs within the state by formulating educational opportunities that really do make an impact for residents," said Milan Rewerts, Colorado State Cooperative Extension director. "The team had significant impacts not only on their clients but on the land, natural resources and environment on which their clients live."
In particular, the team focused on providing education about water issues such as water rights, irrigation management and protecting water quality, as well as weed management, soil and fertility education, property rights and fencing laws and pasture management. The group provided this information through workshops, newsletters, bulletins, fact sheets, news articles, Web sites and videos. The group also targeted real estate agents with educational information so that they, in turn, could encourage landowners to adopt responsible land management practices.
The group also hosts the Western Small Acreage Expo, which attracts 600 to 800 people annually who attend 30 to 35 different demonstrations, seminars and short courses. The expo also includes vendors who showcase products and services designed for small acreage owners.
Area residents, including volunteers and additional Cooperative Extension agents, also are receiving in-depth training to provide education to new landowners along with the Cooperative Extension faculty who are part of the team.
Team members include Rod Sharp, Colorado State Cooperative Extension agriculture and business management specialist in the western region; Pat McCarty, Colorado State Cooperative Extension Garfield County director; Bill Ekstrom, Cooperative Extension Rio Blanco County director; Kim Fabrizius, Cooperative Extension Gunnison County director; Dave McManus, Cooperative Extension agriculture and 4-H agent in Montrose and Ouray counties; Gene Nelson, Cooperative Extension Mesa County entomologist; and David Peebles, Cooperative Extension agricultural marketing agent in Delta County.